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Bryan Leeth
Name: Bryan Leeth
Company: Southwest Airlines
Position: First Officer
Current Aircraft: B737
Age 44 years old
Country USA

Airline experience: yes
Corporate or fractional experience: no
Cargo experience: no
Military, government, or law enforcement experience: no

Mentor profile:
HI! My name is Bryan Leeth. I am a First Officer(Co-Pilot) for Southwest Airlines on the Boeing 737. I can't tell you how excited I am to be part of the pilot mentor program. I hope I can offer useful information to aspiring pilots and look forward to sharing my experiences and hearing yours. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in a small town named Waynesboro. We had a very small airport(w13) that had the shortest paved runway in the state at the time(2000ft). This was and still is one of dearest places in my heart as I learned to FLY there. Now, I live just west of Atlanta, GA with my wife and three children. I can't remember when I first became interested in flying. My father had his private pilot's license for a few years before I was born. He had a Cessna 172 when I came into the world and I must have been hooked after my first ride in it. It is amazing the things that influence a 1 month old. My father owned different airplanes throughout my adolescent and teenage years. Thankfully he was able to help support my obsession. I started flying gliders at age 15 and earned my private license in them at 16. I also soloed in a Cessna 150 on my 16th birthday. At about the same time I got a job grounds keeping at the regional airport. I would do anything to be around airplanes. Through the rest of my highschool years I worked at the same airport where I eventually upgraded to aircraft fueler and customer service rep for a little over $5.00/hr and was able to get my instrument rating before I left for college. I spent 4 great years at Auburn University in Alabama from 1993-1997. Although Auburn has an excellent flight school I wasn't used to the intensely structured environment that FAR 141 flight schools offered and I opted to get the rest of my ratings at Tuskeegee Flight School in Tuskeegee, AL just down the road. This was the same airport where the famed Tuskeegee Airman earned their wings in World War II. I earned my ratings through CFII/MEI/CFI glider there and flight instructed for the flight school which eventually changed it's name to AirVentures and is now based in LaGrange, GA. I left AirVentures and Auburn University in June of 1997 with 1700 hours of flight time and believe it or not, three classes left to graduate. I took a job with Atlantic Coast Airlines in Washington D.C flying as a co-pilot on the Jetstream 32. I upgraded to Captain in about 15 months. I also flew as Captain on the Jetstream 41 and as a Captain and Check Airman on the Dornier 328 Jet. As a side note, I was able to finish my degree over about 2 1/2 years which I may not have done if my girlfriend (wife now) hadn't kept on me about it. I am glad she did! After 4 years 8 months and 2 weeks I left ACA for my dream Job at Southwest Airlines where I have been since March 14th 2002. I have been blessed with a pretty smooth path all the way. I am thankful for every opportunity that presented itself along the way and for the other pilots who dedicate their lives to helping aspiring airline pilots achieve their dreams.

Favorite thing about flying:
When you look down at the world from any altitude you can't help but see the goodness and beauty that we so frequently miss on the ground. You will learn something on every flight.
Disadvatages of being a pilot:
Being gone from home for half the month loses its appeal after a while. It only gets worse when you have a family. You never sleep as well in a strange hotel as you would at home!

What you would have done different:
I can't say that I would have changed anything. It worked out well. Thanks to the pilots who mentored me!
Advice to aspiring pilots:
Dare yourself to dream! Be realistic, but DREAM! Don't pass up small opportunities waiting for your big break. One of those opportunites may be it!
Problems encounterd along the way:
You will hear stories from many pilots who have had a rough time in the aviation industry and gave up. They can be very pessimistic at times and even quite discouraging. Try to learn from their experiences and move on. This is the greatest career in the world if you make it so.

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